From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-In this terrific debut novel, readers meet Sahar, a 17-year-old student who lives in Tehran. She is smart and ambitious, and she has a secret that could get her arrested or even killed; she is a lesbian and is in love with her best friend. When Nasrin's parents arrange for her to marry a young male doctor, Sahar knows that she and Nasrin will no longer be able to be with each other. When desperate Sahar meets transsexual Parveen at a party given by her gay cousin, she thinks she sees a way to be with Nasrin. In Iran, it is not illegal to be transsexual, as it is to be gay or lesbian, and the state will even pay for sex reassignment surgery because it is seen as a necessary medical procedure. Sahar pursues sex reassignment, dreaming of marrying Nasrin even though she knows in her heart that she doesn't really want to become a man. As Nasrin's wedding approaches, Sahar realizes its inevitability and must decide what she is going to do. Farizan's portrayal of Sahar and her predicament is sensitive and heartbreaking. Even less-sympathetic characters, such as Nasrin and her parents, are portrayed in a nuanced manner; in the culture Farizan depicts, the girls' fears that their romantic relationship will become known are realistic and understandable. Rich with details of life in contemporary Iran, this is a GLBTQ story that we haven't seen before in YA fiction. Highly recommended.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Teens Sahar and Nasrin have loved each other since they were young girls, but homosexuality is a crime in Iran, and the two girls could be severely punished, even executed, for their romantic love for one another. When an arranged marriage for Nasrin threatens the girls’ secret relationship, Sahar vows to take action, but what can she do? Desperate, she decides to have sex-reassignment surgery to become a man so that she can marry her friend. Surprisingly, such surgery is legal in Iran and even paid for, at least in part, by the government, and Sahar also has the caring support of a transsexual friend. Still, will she be able to follow through, and, if not, what will the future hold for the two devoted friends? Farizan’s first novel is an accomplished and compassionate look at a heartbreaking situation and the possibility of an unlikely but plausible solution. Throughout, the author presents a groundbreaking, powerful depiction of gay and transsexual life in Iran and its similarities to and differences from that of the West. An intimate look at life in modern-day Iran and its surprising Westernization, even though much of this culture is clandestine. Grades 10-12. --Michael Cart